Who knew….slow cooker vegetarian lasagne

image

I adore my slow cooker and use it at least a couple of times a week. I love coming in and being greeted by the sweet smell of a hearty stew, or chunk of meat which has been slowly cooking to perfection over a few hours. While I had been scouring Pinterest looking for new slow cooker recipes, I noticed that a few people had cooked lasagne, very successfully, in their slow cookers, so I thought I’d give it a shot using left over vegetarian bolognaise sauce, I’d saved for a rainy day in the freezer.

So, this morning I quickly whipped up a cheese sauce for the top, layered the sauce and the pasta sheets in the slow cooker, before turning it on low and heading out to the gym.

By 4pm it was smelling delicious. So delicious, that Phoebe decided she wanted her dinner early!

Ste and I ate later and were really impressed at how well it turned out. Next time I would probably wait until about midday to turn the cooker on as the pasta was slightly less al dente then  I would choose, but it wasn’t disintegrating by any means. All in all, a lovely hassle free way to get a family favourite on the dinner table.
image

Snails pace ultra slow cooked leg of lamb.

So, to accompany my ultimate roast potatoes yesterday, I served up a whole, slow cooked leg of lamb which had been cooking for about nine hours in the slow cooker/crock pot.

I like my lamb either pink, or falling off the bone, and, as you can imagine, this fell firmly into the second category.

It was a huge leg, and I actually bartered with the butcher in Waitrose because I wasn’t prepared to pay what they wanted for it. I have no shame in telling you that after a bit of hustling back and forth I actually carried it away for an impressive £10! Chip off the old block me! My father is very proud!
image

The first stage is dressing up the meat a little. Here’s what I used:
image

Quarter the onion and set aside. Slice the garlic and cut the rosemary into little sprigs. Puncture the meat and push the garlic and rosemary inside the slits.
image

Season with the salt and pepper, before massaging it with a little olive oil. Brown in it a frying pan to seal all those lovely juices in.
image

When sealed, put it in the slow cooker, and return the frying pan to the heat. Add a good glug of red wine or port to the hot pan to de-glaze it and pick up all the caramelised flavour from the meat.
image

Let the alcohol burn off for a minute or so before adding in some hot lamb stock. I simply used lamb oxo cubes on this occasion. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker on top of the meat.
image

Pop the lid on and leave it to work its magic!
image

Baste the lamb with the juices every couple of hours if you’re in (if not, don’t worry, it will turn out fine away), and a couple of hours before you’re ready to serve throw in some fresh mint if you’ve got it to hand.

Half an hour before serving drain the juices into a saucepan and reduce to intensify the flavour. Add some cornflour paste to thicken if you so desire.
image

Turn the slow cooker off and leave the meat to rest while you put the finishing touches to the rest of the meal. At this point it’s likely to look something like this:
image

Don’t panic. It’s meant to be falling off the bone. When you’re ready to serve simply pull a couple of forks through it to break up the meat and serve. Enjoy!
image

Slow cooker lamb and pearl barley stew with dumplings

image

With the resident vegetarian serving at a local soup kitchen this evening, I took the opportunity to make something really meaty, really rustic and really delicious for dinner. The best bit is it’s really easy too, just a matter of throwing everything in a slow cooker and letting it do the work.

I chopped up some leek, carrots and celery, tossed in a handful of pearl barley, salt, pepper, some fresh rosemary and a couple of lamb leg steaks and covered with lamb stock.

image

Let it cooked for a few hours then take the steaks out and shread them. Put the meat back in.

In a bowl, rub 180g of self raising flour with 60g of very cold grated butter. Add in a large pinch of salt,  some garlic powder, pepper and then mix with approximately 150ml milk until you have a dough. Shape into dumplings and place on top of the stew. Make sure there is still enough juice in there to stop the stew drying out. 

image

Put the lid back on and the dumplings will start to cook and puff up.

image

Half an hour before you’re ready to eat top the dumplings with some grated cheese and put the lid back on. Et voila,  you’ll end up with hearty yet light fluffy dumplings to mop up all the delicious gravy of the melt in the mouth slow cooked lamb. Delicious.

image